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Professor Bill Finch-Savage

Job Title
Life Sciences
+44(0)24 7657 4968
Research Interests

Seeds are the means of delivering genetic information across space and time, not only in natural systems and conservation programmes, but crucially in agriculture where the world seed market is predicted to soon exceed US$40 billion. My research interests focus on understanding and enhancing the performance of seeds in this process and subsequent seedling establishment. The latter phase is fundamental to efficient crop production and the species balance of natural plant communities. Of particular interest is the response of seeds to environmental signals and the control of seed germination timing through dormancy which dominates seedling establishment. In my view, to understand these responses it is essential to integrate knowledge from laboratory studies with understanding of the soil surface complex in which the seed functions. Nevertheless, seed ecology, physiology and molecular biology have tended to be studied by separate scientific communities and with limited reference to the soil physical environment. The vision supporting my research has been to bring these different disciplines together to develop a better understanding of seed behaviour.

Following retirement I am now an emeritus academic and no longer take on new projects and students.


Bill graduated with a BA in Biology from the University of York and a PhD in crop physiology from the University of Reading. He joined the National Vegetable Research Station in 1981 following four years as a science manager in industry. He transferred to Horticulture Research International and then the University of Warwick while based at the Wellesbourne Campus. Throughout he led a series of physiological and molecular biological projects on many aspects of seed science and seedling establishment. Bill is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and was President of the International Society for Seed Science 2011-2014.

Title Funder Award start Award end
KBBE.2012.1.1-01: Improving seeds for agriculture and conservation activitiesEcoseed EU 01 Jan 2013 31 Dec 2016
Tissue specific aquaporin expression for plant water stress resistance BBSRC 01 Oct 2012 31 May 2016
Studentship Jake Chandler : Chemical genetics of seed germination: modulation of a key step in abscisic acid biosynthesis (linked to WV patent assignment) Syngenta Crop Protection AG 01 Oct 2011 30 Sep 2014
Regulation of seed dormancy and its link to flowing time in the annual life cycle of plants BBSRC 01 Aug 2011 31 Jul 2014
Life History Variation in Weed Populations Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Mar 2010 28 Feb 2013
Towards improving parsnip seed quality the role of genetic and environmental influences. Technology Strategy Board 01 Feb 2012 31 Jul 2012
Industrial support for BBSRC A trait-led approach which exploits natural variation in seed vigour to enhance crop establishment (16777) Syngenta Seeds B.V 01 May 2007 30 Apr 2011
Improved Understanding of Dormancy in Problem Broad-leaved Weeds Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Jan 2007 31 Mar 2011
A Trait-led Approach which Exploits Natural Variation in Seed Vigour to Enhance Crop Establishment. BBSRC 01 Jan 2007 31 Dec 2010
Molecular physiology of endosperm - limited seed germination - gene function and regulation in the endosperm of Brassicaceae species DFG (German Research Foundation) 01 Jan 2006 31 Dec 2009
Drum Priming Project Lion Seeds 20 Jul 2009 23 Oct 2009
Drum Priming in New Zealand Seed Enhancements Limited (New Zealand) 01 Sep 2008 31 Jan 2009
Amendment to Drum Priming in New Zealand (RHRWF0420/21585) Seed Enhancements Limited (New Zealand) 25 Nov 2008 31 Dec 2008
Understanding the Relative Establishment Times of Crops and Weeds within the Changing Seedbed Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Oct 2004 30 Sep 2008
Climate Change and Biodiversity in Agri-environment Schemes Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Oct 2006 30 Jun 2007
Evaluating ecosystem models as tools for policy development on biodiversity. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Apr 2006 31 Mar 2007
DW: Simulation of Vegetable Seed Germination and Seedline Emergence Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 01 Apr 2004 31 Mar 2005